Born into a poor San Francisco family, Raymond Bailey dropped out of school in the 10th grade to help make ends meet. He took on a variety of short-term jobs before escaping his lot by hopping a freight to New York. He tried in vain to find work as an actor, eventually signing on as a mess boy on a freighter. While docked in Honolulu, Bailey once more gave acting a try, and also sang on a local radio station. In Hollywood from 1932 on, Bailey took any nickel-and-dime job that was remotely connected to show business, but when World War II began, he once more headed out to sea, this time with the Merchant Marine. Only after the war was Bailey able to make a living as a character actor on stage and in TV and films. In 1962, he was cast as covetous bank president Milburn Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies, a role that made him a household name and one which he played for nine seasons (ironically, he'd once briefly worked in a bank during his teen years). After the show was cancelled in 1971, Bailey dropped out of sight and became somewhat of a recluse.